What do books tell us?
Having discussed fear of death we need not delve once again into the panoply of atheists and materialists who deny the reality of afterlife, soul and spirit. Hence, as the title of this paper suggests, we shall move on to explore some windows (meaning sources of information or altered states of consciousness) through which we might peer in order to gain insights about what happens to us when we die and the nature of our afterlife consciousness. When we speak about windows through which we might better access death and afterlife we initially turn to published sources of information such as is found in Ptolemy Tompkins’, The Modern Book of the Dead (Atria Books, New York, 2012). This publication summarizes both the Egyptian and Tibetan Books of the Dead and – based upon extensive scholarly research – updates these two ancient classic texts. We will discover more later about Ptolemy Tompkins’ views on the meaning of life and death.
Another published source of course is Holy Scripture itself, including both the Old and New Testaments. Sad to say that in Scripture not much is written about death and the afterlife other than the possibility of being sentenced to an eternity in Hell if you lead an evil life. Perhaps the most well-known description of the afterlife found in the New Testament Scripture comes from the Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 2: “in my Father’s house are many mansions.” This quotation requires a bit of interpretation. “Mansions” could be more accurately interpreted as “dwelling places.” Second, most theologians and biblical scholars seem to restrict the meaning of this verse to afterlife existence, when it could very well also apply to incarnate existence within the context of what is meant by The Kingdom of God as it pertains to human existence within the Earth plane, including within the tabernacle of one’s soul.
Over many centuries the Great Holy Men of our World Religions lived in a state of consciousness that you can bet was likely quite aware of the afterlife realm and the presence of Angels. Clearly, while living on the earth the Kingdom of God was in them and because of their acute awareness of the constancy of the Divine Presence they radiated much Light. The dwelling place they had chosen was a tabernacle in which the material and celestial were interconnected. In those tabernacles, whether material or mystical, through their spiritual practices of much prayer and meditation they learned to overcome their self-centeredness, concentrate their attention on God, care for others, open their hearts to receive insight wisdom and to feel intense compassion for all living beings. Accordingly, their consciousness was in communion with the Divine Spirit as much, if not more than, it was with the earthly realm.
Aldous Huxley, the Twentieth Century British author of the profound, now classic, treatise on spirituality entitled, The Perennial Philosophy (1945, 2004, Perennial Classics, New York) expressed this very same principle: “It is because we don’t know who we are, because we are unaware that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, that we behave in the generally silly, often insane, the sometimes criminal ways that are so characteristically human. We are saved, we are liberated and enlightened, by perceiving the hitherto unperceived good that is already within us, by returning to our eternal Ground and remaining where, without knowing it, we have always been. Plato speaks in the same sense when he says, in the Republic, that ‘the virtue of wisdom more than anything else contains a divine element which always remains.’ And in the Theatetus he makes the point, so frequently insisted upon by those who have practiced spiritual religion, that is only by becoming godlike that we can know God – and to become Godlike is to identify ourselves with the divine element which in fact constitutes our essential nature, but of which, in involuntary ignorance, we choose to remain unaware.”
Meister Eckhart (1260 –1328) was a Thirteenth-Fourteenth Century German philosopher, theologian, and mystic who lived and worked in the Dominican Order. His identity with God was absolute and inseparable. What follows is an English translation of what Eckhart propounded originally in German. “To gauge the soul we must gauge it with God, for the Ground of God and the Ground of the Soul are one and the same… There is a spirit in the soul, untouched by time and flesh, flowing from the Spirit, remaining in the Spirit, itself wholly spiritual. In this principle is God, ever verdant, ever flowering in all the joy and glory of His actual Self. Sometimes I have called this principle the Tabernacle of the soul, sometimes a spiritual Light, anon I say it is a Spark. But now I say that it is more exalted than this and that the heavens are exalted above the Earth. So now I name it in a nobler fashion…. It is free of all names and void of all forms. It is one and simple, as God is one and simple, and no man can in any wise behold it.” To this Eckhart added, “I perceive what God and I are in common. There I am what I was. There I neither increase nor decrease. For there I am the immovable which moves all things. Here man is once again what he is eternally and ever shall be. Here God is received into the soul… As long as I am this or that, or have this or that, I am not all things and I have not all things. Become pure until you neither are nor have either this or that; then you are in the present and, being neither this nor that, are all things.” (See Meister Eckhart, Teacher And Preacher, The Classics Of Western Spirituality, Paulist Press, New York, 1986)
This foundation principle of God Consciousness, so astutely articulated by Aldous Huxley as well as by Meister Eckhart, is one good reason why nearly all the remaining windows through which we will be peering this evening will pertain to states of consciousness that may appear to be quite otherworldly, but nevertheless yet absolutely accessible through living human consciousness.
A little further on in our discussion we will be introduced to Dr. Michael Newton and his chief lieutenant Paul Aurand. During the hypnotic regressions they perform their patient’s soul takes over and becomes the voice of the patient in hypnotic trance. When the soul recalls the spiritual acme it attains in the afterlife realm Newton and Aurand refer to that mind state as Superconsciousness. While some of the mind states we will be exploring this evening may fall short of this pinnacle, they nevertheless very much appear to have resulted from the functioning of the soul.